A federal correctional officer sexually exploited female inmates for years, scaring them into servicing him, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Eugenio Perez, 47, a former Metropolitan Detention Center lieutenant, “took advantage of his power and took advantage of the very women he was supposed to be protecting,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Taryn Merkl. “These were crimes of opportunity.”
Merkl made her arguments for a 23-count guilty verdict at the close of a graphic trial, where inmates said Perez, nicknamed “Caballo” — Spanish for “horse” — forced inmates into oral sex.
Perez pounced on four women and two others dodged his propositions, prosecutors said. One woman allegedly cried as he forced her to expose herself while he masturbated.
The assaults always happened in the lieutenants office — which conveniently lacked surveillance cameras.
Merkl said the women’s accounts were bolstered by similar descriptions of Perez’s penis — which authorities photographed while investigating the case. Some of the jurors grimaced as Merkl showed them the pictures during her arguments.
During the approximately week-long trial, at least two of Perez’s accusers burst into tears on the stand.
But Perez’s lawyer, Ken Montgomery, told jurors to scrutinize the womens’ testimony instead of getting caught up in the case’s emotions.
“All of these witnesses have a reason to lie and fabricate,” he said, adding at another point, “It can’t simply be the stigma, the allegations are enough.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata countered that the self-proclaimed “horse” “treated the inmates like they were his stable. Those women were not in prison to serve his sexual desires.”
Perez could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.